Archive for the ‘fiction’ Category

Lost in the Heap

Posted: August 3, 2010 by leftsock in fiction

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It was hot and sweaty in The Lap, and Left was beginning to feel sick. He stood stock still, leaning against the velvet-covered wall, watching his wife snuggle up to some stranger on the opposite side of the dance floor.

Two months apart. That’s all it had taken for his wife to find someone new. Or was she still his wife? All of a sudden the semantics seemed more important than anything else — he struggled with the word in a vain attempt to find an alternative. Ex-wife was misleading: their society didn’t allow divorces, only separations. Estranged wife? She certainly seemed like a stranger to him now.

Left was so concerned with watching her twine around his replacement that he forgot to keep an eye on his surroundings. He jumped when a heavy hand fell on his shoulder. He turned around, heart sinking, to find a bouncer sizing him up.

“You got an invite?”

It was clear he didn’t belong–if his lack of a partner didn’t give it away, than his weather-worn clothes did. Left had a sudden flash of inspiration. “The Twins invited me. They said they’d help me….”

The bouncer shook his head. “Ain’t got no makeovers scheduled tonight.” He tightened his grip. “I think you better come with me. We’ve a place for people like you.” He could only be referring to the Heap, a prison for the dredges of society. Inside the Heap, anarchy reigned–the inmates were piled together in a heap, fighting for survival. And it was rumoured that once you were lost in the heap, you never got out.

Left pulled against the bouncer’s grip, desperate to make him understand. “Look, sir, I just came here to see my wife. I didn’t mean any harm. I just wanted to be reunited with her, but then….”

“But then?” The bouncer looked over in the direction Left pointed, at Right, who was still dancing with that other man. “Ah.” He chewed his lip thoughtfully, then relented. “Look, you step outside now quietly, sonny. I didn’t see you. Okay?”

“Okay! Thank you, sir. Thank you!”

“Just go.”

Left was one step away from the door when They came. The Sweepers. The top two government agents that showed no pity nor mercy. They ran through the bar, scanning the crowd, and quickly clocked onto him. Left watched them approach, glued to the spot in terror. The two were almost identical in appearance, nimble and long-limbed, wearing all beige with white-tipped shoes.

They didn’t ask any questions nor give him the time to explain. The fact that he was standing alone without a partner was enough to warrant his arrest. They picked him right up, stern-faced, grips unforgivably tight, and escorted him out of The Lap. He thought they’d just throw him outside but they kept a tight hold of him and continued dragging him down the road. All Left could hear was his own panicked gasps; the Sweepers did not speak.

”Please,” he finally managed to say, looking from one to the other. “Please.” He wasn’t quite sure what he was asking for. He thought of his wife, snuggled up to a stranger, and wondered whether he was better off being locked up where he wouldn’t have to see her anymore, where he wouldn’t have to pretend to function without her.

The Sweepers ignored him. They marched him down the road with single-minded determination, their steps hurried and purposeful. They knew exactly where they were taking him, Left realized. They had made this trip many times before. And there could only be one place with which these enforcers were so familiar: the Heap. By the time Left realized the implications of where they were taking him, they had already arrived. He tried to run, scream, do something — anything at all — but his body remained limp and unresponsive, as if it were no longer in his control.

They opened the door. It was a short drop down to the prison; they pushed him through and watched him fall without once altering their expression. Left landed in the middle of a crowd, felt the press of bodies on either side and panicked. He pushed his way through to a corner and pressed his back against the wall, looking around with dawning horror. The Sweepers had re-locked the exit and disappeared; there was no way out.

Right beside him was a tramp, his clothes threadbare, his mouth gaping loosely with old age. The tramp was picking half-heartedly at his own clothes, pulling out small clumps of dust and fluff. Left couldn’t see the point, really — he was covered with such a thick layer of dust it would never come off. It looked like the tramp had been sitting in the same place for years. For years. Left felt his throat tighten and he swallowed heavily.

The tramp looked up then and flicked a ball of dust his way. ”Welcome to the Heap,” the tramp said, and Left turned away from him, curled up into a ball, and cried.

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Homecoming

Posted: June 21, 2010 by leftsock in fiction

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Left was rescued from the darkness after two long months of solitary confinement. He emerged a shadow of his former self, worn thin by the strains of imprisonment.

“How’d it go?” the cleaner joked as Left was on his way out. “Any priests down there? You look a little… holey.”

He wanted to be angry but his whole body was limp, beaten. Like a hand puppet emptied of his stuffing, all that remained was a mockery of his former self, of who he’d used to be, when he’d been with her.

Her. Right. He’d taken to calling her that, because she’d always been convinced of her rightness. When they’d been together he’d been sure, too. Now he didn’t know anymore. Two months of darkness had unpicked the binding keeping them together and he’d been forced to come to terms with his own lonely identity. The process hadn’t been pleasant yet now that he’d found the edges to himself he was afraid of losing them again. But he loved her. Where else could he go but home?

Home. Drawer Mansions, 2nd floor. He’d lived there for as long as he could remember. But he’d never had to make his own way there, always managing to get a ride from the shirts. This time Left was kicked and buffeted by the passer-bys until he stopped outside the white lacquered wood of his apartment block. One of the doors had been left open a crack and he slipped through there and made his way to the dorm.

Inside it was dark and quiet, rows and rows of couples nestled together, sleeping. He looked up and down but couldn’t see anyone lying alone. She couldn’t have found another already, could she? It wasn’t possible. Maybe she was hidden in a corner somewhere.

“Hello?”

The pair nearest to him raised their heads and examined him curiously. They twisted to look behind him, and Left realized what they were looking for. Right.

“Hello,” they said finally, a little wary. Of course. Nothing was more dangerous than someone single, especially someone accosting a couple. Relationships had been broken up that way before.

He hastened to reassure them. “I’m looking for my wife. I’ve lost her.”

“Oh no!” The couple looked at each other, snuggling together even tighter.

Left fought to hide his scowl. “Have you seen her? She’s about my height, slimly built…?”

The girl frowned. “Do you think he means her?”

“That girl who was here for a while? The odd one out?”

“Yes! That’s exactly whom I was thinking of!”

They smiled at each other. “We’re so similar!” It made Left want to strangle them.

“Well?” Left asked, impatient.

“Has she–?” the couple asked each other. They nodded, turned to Left. “She’s gone, never came back. We think she works at The Lap now.”

He didn’t wait to ask why she’d be in such a seedy bar of businessmen and strippers. He didn’t even thank the couple, annoyed by their perfect contentedness. Left raced out of Drawer Mansions and caught the first slipper to The Lap.

Left had forgotten the bar was invitation-only. He managed to sneak it by hiding with another group, squeezing in right behind them. Once inside, he stayed near the corner and scoped his surroundings. Right in the middle of the room were the Twins — he recognized them from his childhood, both looking as sleek and sharp as ever. They’d already gotten some poor oddball in their sharp claws and were in the process of bending her into a new shape. He shuddered, turned away, wanting to intervene but knowing they’d just rip him a new one. He couldn’t interfere. Not now. Not with Right missing.

Left looked around, anxious. He hadn’t seen Right in so long. He could barely remember what she looked like, was worried that during all the time alone they’d have grown apart. But no–they’d been too close for that, they’d known each other too well. He could already imagine their reunion, the way she’d feel in his arms, soft and lemon-scented. He edged away from the corner, looked and looked.

And there she was! And she was… she was wrapped around another guy. Canoodling in the corner with a guy three times her height. What was she thinking? Left was her match! She was his! They had been made for each other! He turned away in knots, only to come face-to-face with a sultry stocking.

“Hey handsome,” she said, pouting at him through the sheer layer of black gauze. “Do you like your weaves smooth?” She flicked the lace ends of her dress at him but Left backed away. “What? Not tempted? They say I fit like a glove….”

But he didn’t want a perfect fit. He wanted the girl who was Right. But it seemed she didn’t exist any more.

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being right

Posted: June 15, 2010 by Jan Oda in fiction

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She’d never been good at relationships.

As a child, she had always been the goofy girl. The oddball. She was a scrawny kid, never allowed outside during school. She never got to play with the kitten, when all the other kids got a turn.

In high school, she had a major crush on the twins. Tall and lean, they were the most popular boys around. They dated girl after girl — and even some boys — until the only oddball left was her. When they finally asked her out, the day before her 18th birthday, she couldn’t say no. They were the twins, after all. She had wanted to be with them forever!

The twins took her to The Lap, a raunchy bar with a famous darkroom where girls gave their dates a lap dance. She didn’t want to, but they were so attractive and convincing in their shiny sharp suits. She caved. They seduced her, working as a team. They unbraided her hair, loosened the knots that held her wrap-dress together.

Afterwards she felt worn-out and brand new at the same time. It was the night she became an adult. But she never saw the twins again.

And then she met him.

He was a perfect fit. He didn’t leave her after making out, but preferred to snuggle against her back at night. After work, he always cleaned up first before coming back to her. And he always came back.

But perfect got boring. Somehow they ended up in a rut. She didn’t know what to do at first, wondered if he felt it too, or if she was the only one. Should they break up? Could they live apart? They had been together so long. But when she couldn’t keep silent on the subject any longer, he asked her out on a date. It had been ages since they went out together, and she was relieved and grateful that somehow he knew her well enough to understand what she needed. And she needed to dance with him, to fall in love again.

He took her to The Machine, the wildest club in the area, and she was positively static. They danced, they got drunk. She closed her eyes while she danced all the worries away. But when she wanted to tell him how much she loved him, how alike they were, how no one understood her better than him, he was gone.

At first she thought he had gone for another round of drinks. But when he didn’t return, she started to wade through the crowd looking for him. He was nowhere to be found. Had he left her? Stood her up? How could he? They belonged together!

When the daylight seeped through the club window and she still hadn’t found him, she realized she was alone again.

When she arrived home, her last hope that he would be there — waiting for her, ready to curl up in bed with her — died a silent death.

She wouldn’t cry. She deserved better than this. Somewhere out there was her Mr. Perfect. And she would find him. Because she deserved him. Right?

A story about a right sock.

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being left

Posted: June 11, 2010 by leftsock in fiction

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In the beginning he was nameless.

He was not even a he, really — not an individual but part of a greater whole. A matched pair. They were so similar it was hard to tell them apart. They travelled together through puddles and snow, through mud and grass, and when the lazy hot summer days would roll around they’d nestle together in the cool of the house, biding their time.

“We’re cut from the same cloth,” they’d say to each other with secret smiles. The shirts upstairs would roll their eyes but it didn’t matter.

There were, of course, brief moments of separation, times when they’d lose each other in the crowd. Then he’d hold his breath, keeping the air wrapped up tight inside as if he’d unravel in her absence. When the hand of God reunited them, they’d cling together in a tight ball, his skin on hers.

One day mid-winter they turned to each other, restless. “Let’s go partying!” they exclaimed. There were only a few places to go out in the area, and they’d exhausted The Basket, so they agreed upon The Machine, a dark, exclusive hang-out that ran regular lock-ins.

They almost didn’t make it in. The venue was packed, thrumming with excitement. The doors locked. The walls began to shake, the drinks to flow. They swayed back and forth with the crush of the crowd and stretched out, dancing.

That’s when it happened. A shirt shoved rudely between them, heading for the other side, and they were torn apart. He looked round and round. There! Was that her? By the time he’d made his way over, she was nowhere to be seen. Again, turning, searching — nothing. The rough-housing crowd that had seemed so benign was now an insurmountable obstacle, strangling him.

He pushed his way to the side and leaned against the wall to catch his breath, his head spinning, his limbs heavy with drink. The wall was soap-slippery; he slid down the side, through a crack in the wall to a hidden room underneath where it was dark and lonely. He lifted his head groggily, stared upwards but could not see the exit. He was trapped.

“Hello? Anyone here?” Without the echo of her voice, his words sounded flat. “Hello? I need help!” But no one could hear him over the throbbing of the drum. He was alone, half of what he used to be. Incomplete.

Don’t panic, he thought. When the party finished someone would find him, and they’d be reunited. They’d nestle together in bed and laugh at his fears.

Finally the doors unlocked. The Machine began to empty. He called out for help. She’d be waiting just outside, growing anxious, eyes fixed on the door in the way people waited for their luggage, their heart leaping every time only to sink back down in disappointment. He called out again. The sounds were growing dimmer, the passing rustle of the crowd softer and softer still.

Then it was silent. A few minutes passed before he realized only he was Left.

A story about a left sock.

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